For health-conscious people who work hard with diet and exercise to stay fit, under-activity and overeating that tend to occur at night can make or break progress significantly. At night you are less likely to be active and more likely to overeat to recover from a long, exhausting day. However, there are simple things you can do to make sure you finish the day off well and continue toward your ultimate fitness goals.
Your body will have a harder time digesting food eaten less than three hours before falling asleep. During the day time, especially with our first meal of the day, we use the calories consumed to fuel our daily activities. When our food is not turned into fuel, it will more easily turn to fat. Unlike meals eaten throughout the day, nighttime meals do not increase your metabolism because your body is getting ready to sleep. The repairing that occurs in the body before sleep is considered more important to your body than attempting to metabolize food eaten too late at night. To ensure weight loss, it is best to go to sleep slightly hungry.
However, if you have ever tried to fall asleep on a completely empty stomach, you will notice that the stomach pains can cause you to toss and turn all night. Try drinking a full glass of water or a cup of chamomile tea with a light, natural sweetener such as agave, which can be found in most health food stores. Club soda, or another natural, sugar-free, caffeine-free carbonated beverage may also help to soothe the stomach pain while filling you up just enough to sleep peacefully.
If your major workout occurs in the late afternoon or at night, try replenishing with simple sugars in the form of an easily digestible smoothie or green juice. If you do not have a blender, make your last meal as simple as possible. Fruits or vegetables in their raw form are ideal, but lightly steamed vegetables will work as well. Heavy or processed foods such as animal meats, white rice, bread, pasta, dairy and fried foods will put an incredible burden on your system as it prepares to shut down for sleep, making those calories likely to be stored as fat.
While it is unnecessary and even harmful to work out every day of the week, body weight exercises can be done in the comfort of your own home to make up for a missed workout or an unexpectedly late or heavy meal. Body-weight exercises require absolutely no equipment and can be done in any room of your house or outside in the backyard. The following is a list of some high-calorie burning body-weight exercises that you can perform in a circuit training fashion just before going to bed at night:
1) sit ups
2) push ups (regular or elevated)
3) tricep push ups
6) one leg dead lifts
7) jumping jacks
9) step ups
You can find descriptions of these and several other body weight exercises at http://koreantaekwondo.tripod.com/articles/exercises.htm.
You can choose any number of exercises done in the gym and adapt them to be done at home without barbells, dumbbells or workout machines. Arrange them into a circuit workout for maximum calorie loss. Circuit training works so well because it allows you to reap the benefits of both a weight workout and a cardiovascular workout. Choose five to eight body weight exercises and do them either one after the other or with a maximum 30-second rest between each exercise. Complete two to five sets of each circuit with one minute of rest in between each set. You should have a hard time breathing during and after each set, signifying a dramatic calorie expenditure. The best part is that you can do this all without any weight or equipment, in your own home, and right before you go to bed.
As the day winds down and we find ourselves in the privacy of our own homes, we face emotional and physical exhaustion that can cause us to throw our diet and fitness plans out of the window for a moment of comfort. Eating heavily and passing out on the couch in front of the television after a long day of work may feel like a relief, but in reality you are putting more stress on your body by asking it to digest as it prepares to shut down and repair itself. You will most likely wake up tired and groggy, suffering from the under-digested remains of your meal, and blow off your morning run for an extra hour of sleep. Instead of giving in to a tiring day with a short-term solution that will hurt you in the long run, try filling your stomach with a full glass of water or a cup of tea, or give yourself a late night workout with a circuit set of body weight exercises that are sure to tire you out for a night of restful sleep. Making the right decisions in those few hours at night before bed will be the key to your success, and the secret that sets you apart from everyone else.
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